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I wish there were some sort of guidebook or phrasebook that lists different Christian slang, jargon, vocabulary, that insiders of a particular Christian group use but outsiders will have no idea what they are really saying or have a vague sense of what they are saying.

If not, is asking questions about Christian jargon appropriate here?

Examples:

  • What is a mission trip?

  • Since when did Mormons use "tracting" to refer to door-to-door proselytizing?

  • How did the phrase "getting to know Jesus" come to be ubiquitous among Evangelicals? To them, what is it really supposed to mean? Does it refer to the act of converting to Christianity, or does it refer to the act of living a Christian lifestyle? Can a person "know Jesus" but still not commit to Jesus's teachings?

  • What do Evangelical Christians mean by "seeing Jesus"? What is the etymology of this phrase?

For the third question, I've only seen the question when Cru (Campus Crusade for Christ) promotes at my school and on websites. I think other English-speaking Evangelicals do it too.

  • 2
    Sure. Lots of these question before. They're often tagged with terminology or phrases. – curiousdannii Feb 4 '15 at 6:07
  • I'm okay with questions that ask about current usage, but etymology and past usage is not really within the site's purview. – 3961 Feb 4 '15 at 18:48
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Yes.

Understanding the definition, etymology, nuance, and usage of words is what academics do. Christian-ese is language. Asking about language is fully on-topic.

Many answers may or may not use jargon, but good answers, if they use it, define and contextualize it clearly for even the "outsider."

  • Oh. I thought it would be appropriate on the English.SE then. – Double U Feb 4 '15 at 18:43
  • Jargon is one of those things that is usually not explained, by definition. It is typically used as a way to legitimate members of a group to identify each other. The longer you've been with the group the more you understand the jargon and use it appropriately. – 3961 Feb 4 '15 at 18:50
  • I think this answer is incomplete. Do you also support the discussion of a particular phrase's etymology? – 3961 Feb 4 '15 at 18:50
  • Yes, I do. But I considered that to be part of study, as defined above. – Affable Geek Feb 4 '15 at 18:51
  • Maybe then you could expand on the reasoning because I see that as a study of language, not Christianity. – 3961 Feb 4 '15 at 19:11
  • etymology = history + usage over time. Why would those not be on topic? – Affable Geek Feb 4 '15 at 19:12
  • @AffableGeek Because it is about language, not Christianity. It's probably fine, but I think there needs to be some good, sound reasoning in your post. – 3961 Feb 4 '15 at 19:27
  • Here's a recent question that fits into an etymology topic: First Occurrence of "Sea of Forgetfulness" in Christian Literature You see I'm not sure that's an inherently Christian topic simply because it is a Christian phrase. Christians might find it interesting, but that alone doesn't mean it should be on-topic. – 3961 Feb 5 '15 at 2:11
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    @fredsbend I think history/etymology questions should be okay if it can be established that it is actually jargon, and not if it isn't. English.SE wouldn't be equipped for highly technical religious usages, but asking for the etymology words that aren't really used uniquely by Christians is a waste of our time. – curiousdannii Feb 5 '15 at 5:21

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